It is written by Mod Mark and is dated 21 September 2010.
We’ve spotted that a few of our players are questioning why we removed one of our free quests. The reasons are simple, and there are only two, so I felt it would be useful to list them here. I’ve also tried to answer the questions on the forums about the change.
1. Romeo & Juliet doesn’t reflect the quality of content we produce now.
A new player may say "This is boring. I quit."
The quest was mostly played by brand new F2P accounts due to its location and level prerequisites. A new player has no idea if it’s old or new content and would judge the whole of RuneScape on the content they are playing. This content is simply below the gameplay quality we expect now, and lacks the creativity we would see in new content.
Yes, other quests are also old and low quality; I do not claim that this is the only quest that will be changed. When we looked at the quest completion rates of new accounts, this was quest quite commonly started but not finished. We suspect that’s because it just wasn’t fun enough.
2. Romeo & Juliet was a copy rather than a parody.
A new player may easily say "WTH? Isn’t this just a bad copy of that book thing? FAIL!" and quit.
We often allow real-world influences to shape the content we make. Large areas of the game are often based on things that happen in the real world, especially past histories and media - the Fremennik/Viking similarities, for example, or the Picard-like character from Enlightened Journey. We make them part of the game and we know that people enjoy seeing the RuneScape twist we put on things. Naturally, not all content is parody, but there is definitely a place for it in the game. Romeo & Juliet, however, just wasn’t "RuneScape-y" enough, and at such an early point in the game, new players are unlikely to recognise exactly what "RuneScape-y" is. As such, it was a bad idea to have this content so early on in a player’s career.
Why remove it? What harm was it doing?
See above. We believed it was damaging the game and was encouraging new players to leave.
Why not just rewrite it?
See above. The idea of a parody quest so early on in a player’s career may make them think RuneScape is something that it isn’t.
Also, rewriting the quest would have further compromised the designer’s creativity. If we wanted a quest about romance and mystery on the edge of Varrock, we can write a far better one if it’s got nothing to do with Shakespeare.
I love Romeo/Juliet, we were going to get married, they were my favourite NPCs, etc.
Sorry about that. I have no excuses, but we just didn’t think they were appropriate anymore. We have had similar feedback on "Why did you change that picture on the wall in teh pub it was my fave picture OMG". "Bring back wildy ditch it was my mum" or, indeed, "That female banker in the GE was HAWT why delete!! OMG!!"
Some players bond to things we don’t expect and the game is always changing. We make these changes to make the future of the game more secure, not to unnecessarily annoy you. Perhaps other aspects of the game will emerge as a new favourite. Gudrun, for example, is proving a new favourite for Mod Liono’s - I just heard him sing a song about her.
New players to the game won’t have the same experience we did.
That’s the case with every single update. We’ve changed almost every aspect of the game with updates, and this is no different. I often talk about Prayer training in the original RuneScape, with no Ectofuntus or prayer bones. Most players didn’t play Classic and have no idea of the 'experience' was back then. I don’t think we have to provide the experience for people to, erm, experience. :) Actually, thinking about it, you can still experience both no-Ecto Prayer training AND Romeo & Juliet if you visit Classic!
Finally, on a personal note, I miss the old icon for the Ignore list at the bottom of the screen. I loved that little red guy, and his abject anger used to make me laugh whenever I logged in. He’s gone now and I miss him, but I know the interface is of a higher quality and more professional than it was before, so I know he was lost in the path of progress. He was an unfortunate casualty of change. It’s sad, but just part of the game being a better place to be for all.
If you'd like to discuss this blog on the forums, please visit this thread.
RuneScape's Lead Designer, Mod Mark, discusses the reasoning behind the removal (and replacement) of the Romeo & Juliet quest.